Here’s the thing about Petra, which may or may not be true about other “must sees” on the bucket list: does waking up and seeing the Eiffel Tower become old hat? Does one get jaded about regular viewings of the Taj Mahal? Maybe…although it’s hard to imagine.

It seems impossible, though, that a person could be bored walking through the wadi at Petra. I imagine even a millenia ago, one Nabataean resident saying to another, “Dude, look at the colors of those rocks! Holy Aphrodite!”

Let me be clear. I’m not talking about a pretty piece of quartz or something. I’m talking about the insides of caves that look like this:

No, those rocks aren’t painted. They’re just… rock.

The outsides of the buildings look like this:

On our second day in Petra, we wandered, marveling, through the wadi (okay, I marveled; children may have expressed their wonderment by attempting to parkour along the side walls of the canyon) and headed into the city itself. Here’s a thing I didn’t know about Petra: it’s huge. You could walk in its caves and paths and temples for hours without retracing your steps. There are even paths that lead you out of the valley by climbing up along the top of the wadi–and despite the ardent desire of my children to do something death-defying, we did not walk along those sheer cliff walls.

We went along a colonnaded walk that, at one time, must have been the main thoroughfare for the city:

Along this colonnaded walkway were women selling mementos – jewelry, mostly, and “antique coins” (although in one display of genyoowine coins, Liam found…a US penny and a French euro); and in fact, all the way up the steps to the monastery, there were little “shops” (small tents, or sometimes just a blanket spread on the edge of the steps) selling, basically, the same merchandise, which had been carted up the cliff by a donkey, the back ends of which occasionally confronted us as we heaved ourselves up the cliff:

Up. Up. Up. A house with balloons attached to it would’ve helped.

See those little bitty people in the distance? Yeah. That’s where we started.

Up. Up. Some of us who were not me might have muttered about needing to back to the gym, which might have made others of us decide to dash up a few steps, just, you know, because we suddenly felt like sprinting.  Luckily, those of us who were showing off stretching our legs were able to relax when we got to the top and enjoy the view:


That view…and this one:

Did brotherly love cause the embrace? Or sheer exhaustion?

Astonishingly, as tired as we were, we did not visit the Sunset Shop:

At the end of our pilgrimage, we found answers to many questions:

One brother asked about the possibility of making a sacrifice of the other brother, but we prevailed upon him instead to view the end of the world:

Okay, true, probably it’s not the end of the world. But it felt very close to being at the beginning of time.